By: Tanaay Shah
The main event of UFC 251 on Fight Island (Yas Island, Abu Dhabi) saw Welterweight champion Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman defend his title against BMF champion Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal. The build up to this fight was far more entertaining than the actual fight. However, I do not blame Usman or Masivdal for this. Towards the end of round 1, the only round Masvidal won in the fight, Usman made it very clear that he was not going to stand-up and trade with Masvidal. Who would? He used his clinch game and his world class wrestling to completely shut down Masvidal’s offense.
Many people watching would have found the foot stomps and shoulder strikes from Usman in the clinch boring, but they were indeed effective in him winning the fight. Although Usman comes from a Division II collegiate program, his wrestling is second to none in the UFC. Throughout the fight, it was clear that Masvidal had been working on his takedown defense and wrestling, and actually did a fantastic job in stuffing a good amount of Usman’s takedowns. And even when he did get taken down, he managed to scramble out pretty quickly. However Masvidal grew tired as the fight went on (Masivdal took the fight on 6 days notice) and Usman’s pressure turned out to be too much. Usman clearly won and dominated rounds 2 through 5 and everyone’s scorecards around the world would have it as the same. Despite this not being the most exciting fight, there is a lot to take away from it.
First and most importantly because the UFC is a business at the end of the day, Jorge Masvidal is a giant PPV draw. The media attention for the fight and the pay-per-view buys went up significantly once he signed the dotted line on six days notice.
Secondly, as Kamaru Usman says himself, “he is a PROBLEM”. I do not see him losing anytime soon to anybody, even in the stacked welterweight division. He could go on a historic title run in the UFC like St. Pierre, Jones and Silva.
Tanaay’s picks for Welterweight Matchups
- Masvidal vs. “retired” McGregor (Potentially the biggest money fight in history)
- Diaz vs. “retired” McGregor III (Classic trilogy and a big money fight)
- Usman vs. Burns (Burns was going to fight for the title at UFC 251)
- Masvidal vs. Edwards (History with 3 piece and a soda, winner gets title shot)
- Woodley vs. Covington (Hate each other and already in the works)
- Thompson vs. Chiesa (According to rankings)
- Geoff Neal vs. Vicente Luque (According to rankings)